From Information to Insight: Three Takeaways from TMRE 2012

Posted by: Jonathan Weiss
  • November 16, 2012
  • 4

The Market Research Event (TMRE) wrapped up a few days ago in Boca Raton.  While attending this year’s conference I soaked in some great ideas from all of the great people I met and the amazing presentations.  Here are the key themes that came out of this year’s conference that I believe all market researchers should keep in mind as the industry evolves:

Tell a clear, compelling story

Market research produces a lot of information, and even more data is being gathered using web scraping, but not all of it is relevant to every business challenge. To be successful, researchers need to break through the clutter of data with straightforward, impactful storytelling.

  • Keep it short, and make sure everything you’re presenting supports your story. Don’t try to show how smart you are by including everything you can: “Be brief, be bright, be gone.”
  • Employ horizontal (and vertical) logic. The story you tell should flow logically, without any extraneous distractions.
  • Keep large, messy data tables to a minimum, as they can dilute the power of your insights.
  • Connect on emotional level. Fill stories with human-like characters that the audience can relate to, humans process information better when filtered through an emotional lens.

Break past the conscious mind

I was excited to hear from keynote speaker Daniel Kahneman, as many of my friends and colleagues have enjoyed his book Thinking, Fast and SlowHe hypothesizes two modes of human thought: system 1 (intuition) is automatic, habitual, and non-conscious, and system 2 (reasoning) is explicit and rational.  Since between 75-95% of the choices we make each day are non-conscious, understanding and having access to the “system 1” of the consumer decision-making process is growing more important in the field of market research.

  • It’s hard to influence customers to change their ways.  Market researchers need to understand their various contexts for decision-making and find ways to break into their non-conscious decision-making processes.
  • Consumers make over 17,000 decisions per day, most of which are intuitive.
  • The human mind doesn’t like to work hard if it doesn’t have to; whether it is priming using environmental cues, facial coding, or evolving your brand paradigms, those market researchers that don’t have a solution for measuring the non-conscious will greatly reduce their arsenal when dealing with the decision-making process for consumers.

Embrace change (which requires creativity)

Companies embrace risk-taking, and thirst for fresh ideas of how to obtain deeper insight.  New players can and will enter the field of market research and challenge the norm with fresh approaches.  This can be anything from instant mobile surveys at certain points in the decision process or something like Google’s 1-2 question micro surveys scaled across large samples.

  • Market research must be forward-thinkingand stay ahead of the curve.  Don’t get stuck in:
    • The heritage trap – reluctance to stray from what you’ve done in the past
    • The asset trap – sticking with something because of sunk investment costs
    • The commodity trap – continually doing what is commonly done across the industry
  • Technology is rapidly changing how consumers relate to the world, and thereby brands and products.  It’s our job to help brands connect with their consumers on a deeper level.

I would to love to hear other perspectives on TMRE 2012 or just about the future of market research in general.  Feel free to chime in!

  • LRW Blog - Market Research: Innovation or Extermination?
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  • EJA
    November 19, 2012
    Great write-up! Lots of good old common sense in here. A reminder that no matter how far we advance, we should never lose sight of the fundamentals.
  • Jonathan Weiss
    November 18, 2012
    My favorite part about Kahneman's keynote was that he was the only one without a power point deck. He knew what he wanted to say and just got up there and spoke. Old school.
  • David Sackman
    November 17, 2012
    This is a terrific summary. Wow ... it actually sounds like the conference was all about LRW. Was Kahneman as great in person as his book?

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